How Social Media Helps You Reap the Rewards of an Engaged Community - dummies

How Social Media Helps You Reap the Rewards of an Engaged Community

By Aliza Sherman, Danielle Elliott Smith

An engaged social media community is attentive and responsive. That kind of attention and responsiveness can be leveraged for your business in many different ways:

  • Customer feedback: Receive immediate input from your customers about their needs to better serve them or to identify business and marketing opportunities.

  • Market research: Ask your community to answer questions, take polls or surveys, and fill out questionnaires to produce on-the-fly market research that you can apply to your business.

  • Brand evangelism: Someone who feels connected to your brand often voluntarily talks about you with their friends, fans, and followers.

  • Brand ambassadorship: Provide exclusive perks and incentives to turn your brand evangelists into ambassadors for your company. A brand ambassador program requires a strategic plan and mutual benefit to work, but it starts with identifying your most engaged fans and followers in your social networks and paying attention to them.

Negativity ignored breeds more negativity. Don’t focus only on the people who say positive things about your brand and ignore the naysayers and critics. Look for opportunities to address unhappy customers and turn around their opinions.

A natural offshoot of social media engagement and an engaged community is social sharing. When you’re interacting with your followers online and you’re publishing content that they in turn share with their connections, your content gets distributed within trusted networks.

People who receive your content from their friends are more likely to welcome it than if you push it out to them unsolicited. Spreading information by way of peers is far less commercial and can be much more intimate than using typical online advertising tactics.

Social engagement is not a “quick hit” or short-term folly. The best social media engagement takes place over an extended period, building slowly, evolving as you go (to adapt to the responses from your online community and throughout), and helping achieve mutually beneficial goals.